Australian schools testing facial recognition for attendance

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Schools in the Australian state of Victoria are trialing facial recognition from startup LoopLearn to monitor the whereabouts of students and save teachers time marking attendance, reports.

The company provides real-time monitoring with specially designed devices it says are small and unobtrusive, and can automatically mark a class attendance roll on demand. Teachers and staff are able to access the information on a web dashboard or mobile app.

Sacred Heart College, a Catholic girls’ secondary school in Victoria, is trialing the technology with its Year 11 classes. The school said in a letter to parents that the system is being tested in a number of other schools in the state, though representatives from both the school and LoopLearn declined to name other schools participating.

Victoria’s Department of Education said that it takes privacy seriously and demands a Privacy Impact Assessment be carried out before implementing any similar technology. “We are not aware of this product being used in Victorian Government schools – or any third-party products in use in Victorian Government schools that uses facial recognition technology,” a spokesperson told The Herald Sun’s Kids News.

A Year 11 student at the school told the publication that many girls are horrified by the prospect of being monitored throughout the school day.

LoopLearn is affiliated with the Melbourne Accelerator Program according to CB Insights.

Earlier this year privacy advocates raised concerns when it was reported that some U.S. school boards were implementing facial recognition systems in schools to improve security.

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